In Ohio, an expungement is the sealing of a criminal record so that it is not publicly available. Ohio law allows someone to have any and all references to a prior criminal conviction cleared and their Court file sealed. The purpose of this privilege is to allow the individuals an opportunity, under limited circumstances, so that it does not prevent someone from obtaining employment or seeking continuing education. An expungement is an act of grace created by the State of Ohio and is, therefore, a privilege. It is not a right.
There are certain requirements that must be met before an individual can file for an expungement. Those requirements are described in Section 2953 of the Ohio Revised Code and include:
An Eligible Offender is anyone who has been convicted of an offense in this state or any other jurisdiction and who has not had more than one felony conviction, not more than two misdemeanor convictions if the convictions are not of the same offense, or not more than one felony conviction and one misdemeanor conviction in this state or any other jurisdiction.
In other words, an Eligible Offender can have at most two misdemeanor convictions, or one misdemeanor and one felony conviction. It does not matter how old these convictions are.
Under the new expungement law, a person that has two or more convictions from the same incident and upon the same facts, all of those convictions are considered one conviction. In addition, a person may have two or three convictions not from the same incident treated as one conviction if the convictions resulted from the same court proceeding and the convictions were related criminal acts committed within three months of each other.
A person may also obtain an expungement even if they received a previous expungement from a separate criminal conviction. Eligible Offenders can now have up to two different and separate expungements from two different and separate cases.
A traffic offense(s) is not counted towards your total number of convictions, unless they are considered a prohibited offense. Please see question below discussing prohibited offenses.
Minor misdemeanors are not counted towards your total number of convictions. Minor misdemeanors are considered ticket only offenses. There is no limit on the number of minor misdemeanors you can have sealed.
Juvenile records are not criminal convictions and do not count towards your total number of convictions.
Filing an Expungement
There is a waiting period for any expungement. Ohio law states that the waiting period for a misdemeanor expungement is one year from the final discharge date of your misdemeanor case, including any period of community control/probation and payment of any financial sanctions. The waiting period for a felony expungement is three years after the final discharge of your case, including any period of community control/probation, post release control, and payment of any financial sanctions.
If you have had your case dismissed or were found not guilty of your charge, regardless of the charge being a misdemeanor or felony, you can have your case sealed immediately.
If there was a “No Bill” issued in your case, you must wait two years from the date the No-Bill was issued to file for your case to be expunged. A No-Bill is where the grand jury decided that there was not enough evidence for the prosecutor to go forward on the charges against you.
Ohio law makes it very clear that the following convictions can never be sealed:
The process begins by filing a written motion or application with the Court. A motion or application asks that a particular conviction be expunged and sealed. Most courts require a filing fee of between $50 - $100 to file for an expungement. Once the Court receives and processes an expungement application, it forwards the application to the local prosecutor’s office for a review and response.
The prosecutor’s office, and sometimes the court’s probation department, will review your case and look to determine if your record is, in fact, eligible for expungement. The prosecutor’s office will then, typically, respond in writing concerning the State’s position of the issue of expunging your criminal record.
Once the prosecutor’s office issues a written response, a hearing takes place on the record in front of a Judge to determine whether your conviction should be expunged and sealed from your record. If the prosecutor (State) has not opposed your expungement application, the Court will, typically, order that the record of the applicant’s criminal conviction be expunged and sealed.
Requirements for Personal Appearance
Different courts have different requirements regarding who has to appear at certain hearings. Often, our attorneys can appear on behalf of an individual, especially if the individual now lives out of state. We need to be made aware of your location and your ability to attend a hearing as soon in the process as possible.
Reasons for Expungement
If you meet the qualifications to have your criminal record expunged, you should pursue an expungement for many reasons. Whether you are applying for a job, a professional license, citizenship, or even an apartment, the people who review your application may want to know if you have ever been convicted of a criminal charge. If your record shows that you do have a conviction, it is more likely that you won’t get that job, promotion, professional license, citizenship, or even rent the apartment you desire. Also, if you are ever involved in a legal dispute as either a party or a witness, you will probably be questioned about your past criminal record, and the merits of your case, or the truthfulness of your testimony will be questioned by a judge or jury.
To avoid all of that, if eligible, you should attempt to get your criminal record expunged. Once your record is expunged, it will not be available for the general public to view on a Court’s public website. Also, you will not be required to disclose the previous conviction on any future job application or to any future employer. Finally, you will be able to know that there is no record of your past mistake that might one day resurface to affect your reputation, embarrass you, or affect your ability to obtain employment.
A request to the Court for an expungement requires the drafting and filing of a legal motion. The motion has to be well written and must persuade the Court that your rehabilitation had been obtained and that you are deserving of an expungement. That motion has to be properly served on the prosecutor and often with the local probation department as well. In addition to the initial motion, there, typically, will be an expungement hearing in front of the trial judge where evidence must be presented to show that you have met Ohio’s qualifications and are deserving of an expungement.
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